Those little flat faced darling you saw in your local pet store certainly can be tempting. It all seems so simple – walk in, pay for your puppy, and bring home an instant companion.
However, the price you pay may be a lot more than you bargained for – and it might make you part of a chain of misery that no caring individual could ever condone.
Where do pet stores get their puppies from?
Almost every pet store has the same answer to this question – ‘caring local breeders’. Plain and simple, this is a lie. No caring breeder is going to be willing to let a pet store sell their carefully produced puppies to total strangers, with no screening, qualification or contract. The very act of allowing their puppies to be sold in this manner would contradict the term ‘caring’. Even if any of them were willing to do so, their breed club code of ethics forbids it, and makes doing so grounds for dismissal from the club. In Canada, selling to a pet store is grounds for disbarring from the Canadian Kennel Club, and all registration priviledges.
Pet stores get their puppies from one of three sources:
Back yard breeders who don’t know any better, or don’t care
Commercial breeders directly – aka puppy mills
From the HSUS site:
“Puppy mills are breeding facilities that produce purebred puppies in large numbers. The puppies are sold either directly to the public via the Internet, newspaper ads, at the mill itself, or are sold to brokers and pet shops across the country. Puppy mills have long concerned The Humane Society of the United States.
The documented problems of puppy mills include overbreeding, inbreeding, minimal veterinary care, poor quality of food and shelter, lack of socialization with humans, overcrowded cages, and the killing of unwanted animals. To the unwitting consumer, this situation frequently means buying a puppy facing an array of immediate veterinary problems or harboring genetically borne diseases that do not appear until years later. In 1994, Time magazine estimated that as many as 25% of purebred dogs were afflicted with serious genetic problems”
There are dozens of pages out there which detail the deplorable conditions that puppy mill dogs suffer in. For some examples, visit http://www.prisonersofgreed.org/kennel-examples.html
To truly understand the plight of the puppymill dog’s life, view their movie (warning: graphic and upsetting imagery).
Commercial dog brokers or dealers
Commercial brokers are the first chain in the price mark ups of puppy mill puppies. A broker is the “middle man” for puppy mills and pet stores. They are the ones who buy a puppies, often in bulk lots, from puppy mills, and then sell the pups to the pet store, another broker, or (less frequently) directly to the public. Brokers may also frequent puppy auctions to find, and may sell puppies on to other brokers.
For Frenchies, the average pet store price as of two years ago was $1600
A broker will buy Frenchie puppies for the mill itself for aproximately say $300. This low price is possible because the mills breed in volume, pumping out litter after litter from a bitch until her uterus literally disintigrates, skimping on food and vet care, and moving out puppies as soon as they are as young as five weeks old. The broker then sells the puppy to the pet store for $500 – $800, and the remainder is the pet store’s profit margin.
From HelpingAnimals.Com – “The nationâ€™s largest puppy broker is the Hunte Corporation in Missouri, which also exports dogs overseas. The company has been linked to numerous negligent pet stores and breeders and has sponsored American Kennel Club (AKC) meetings. The USDA has loaned the company more than $4 million for expansion and upgrades in the last three yearsâ€”taxpayer money used to bring more misery to dogs and puppies.”
Like most brokers, Hunte buys puppies from puppy mills in several Midwestern states and then sells them to pet stores all over the country, using windowless transport trucks to haul the pups like the commercial product brokers regard them as.
“The truck is loaded, it’s packed with dogs and puppies and they’re driven for two days — nonstop.” a former worker said. “I’ll bet there were about 70 or 80 dogs in that truck,” another former worker said. “It had an odor like a dead carcass.”
Breeders can either drop the puppies off at the Hunte building or a Hunte truck goes out to pick them up. If the pups, after being inspected by Hunte employees are deemed to be less than ‘Grade A’ – ie; possibly suffering from some form of illness or congenital defect – the breeder may receive a lower price for them. The breeders usually accept the lower price, as they have no use for the puppies.
Hunte’s “Grade A” puppies, the supposedly healthier ones, are sent to pet stores. The “Grade B” puppies, the sicklier ones, are sold in other ways. Some are sold to people who sell then re-sell them over the Internet or through newspaper ads. Others were formerly sold at Missouri flea markets and in Canada, at pet stores. Puppies that are rejected by pet stores and sent back to Hunte also fall into this “Grade B” category and are disposed of in the same way.
Not all the puppies survive to be sold anywhere at all. In 2003, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR) found that the Hunte Corporation, was in violation of the Clean Water and Solid Waste Management Law. At a kennel owned by Hunte, dead puppies were being buried in trenches in a sludge pond too close to the edge of the property, near a leaking septic tank and a large pile of trash. There were also questions as to whether or not Hunte was exceeding the legal limit of 1,000 pounds of dead animals per acre per year, a charge which Hunte denies.
Reasons people use to justify purchasing from pet stores:
I want to ‘rescue’ that poor puppy!
Of course you do – and pet stores know this. They’ll play on your questions about what will happen if no one buys the ‘poor thing’, and then they’ll phone in a re-stocking order as soon as you and Junior walk out the door. After all, there’s a sucker born every minute, and you were just one of them. Worse than that, your well intended ‘rescue effort’ just condemned another bitch in another cage to pump out another litter, and another puppy to get crammed in a truck and shipped across the country when it was barely weaned.
If you really want to rescue a Frenchie, get one from rescue. Leave the pet store puppies alone. It’s hard, but if we don’t cut off the demand, they won’t cut off the supply.
But the petstore offers a ‘Health Guarantee’!
“Suppose you go to a store and buy a brand-new top-of-the-line refrigerator for $1,300. It comes with a year warranty. You take it home, and it works for the first day. The second day, it conks out. You’re angry, and you immediately call up the store to complain. They apologize profusely and send out someone to take away the defective refrigerator and give you one that works. That is how it should work and usually does work with appliances. When the store doesn’t provide a good product, people complain to the Better Business Bureau, they sue, they tell their friends. Word gets out, and the store either cleans up its act or goes out of business.
Now suppose you buy an adorable puppy for $1,300 at a petstore. That’s a lot of money for a dog, so you assume he’s top of the line in terms of health, especially since he has AKC papers and is from a USDA-licensed breeder. You are told the puppy comes with a “14-day health guarantee” that you don’t bother to read. You get the puppy home, and he’s a happy, playful boy the first day. The second day, he starts coughing frequently, and thick mucus comes out of his nose. You call the vet listed on your puppy’s sale papers, but it’s a Saturday night, and her office is closed. Her message says if you have an emergency, go to an emergency animal hospital, so you do. The vet there says you have an extremely sick puppy who will die without round-the-clock care. You don’t want your new puppy to die, so you leave him there at a cost of over $2,000, which you figure will be covered by the 14-day health guarantee.
The next morning, you call the petstore. Surprise! They will not pay for ANY emergency care, not even one day after purchase. It would not pay for it even if the emergency care was provided by its own vet. In fact, it will not pay for NON-emergency care for ANY illness, even at its vet, other than these five illnesses: parvovirus, distemper, hepatitis, corona virus, or canine influenza. That’s what’s written in the 14-day health guarantee – and that’s if even those are covered.
So if it won’t help you pay the vet bills, what DOES the 14-day health guarantee mean?
It means that if you notify the store immediately, you can bring your deathly ill puppy back to the store, and they will either (1) give you your money back or (2) they will take your sick puppy back and give you ANOTHER puppy.
When you return a defective refrigerator to a store, you don’t worry what happens to it next. But a puppy is not a refrigerator. Though you’ve had your puppy only a short time, you feel a strong sense of responsibility to this suffering little baby whose life depends totally on you. You suspect that the store is not what it appears to be, or maybe you even bought him in the first place to “rescue” him from that little cage where he looked so sad. You’re reluctant to give your puppy back, and you’re right to be.
What will happen to that puppy if you give him back? Do you think the pet store would spend over $2,000 on vet care for a sick puppy who might die, when they could only sell him for $1,300 if he were perfectly healthy? It’s not profitable for pet stores to pay for expensive diagnostic tests and treatment. They will try inexpensive drugs to get sick puppies healthy enough to sell, and if that fails but the puppies are still alive, they routinely send them back to the broker. The broker may then return the sick puppies to the puppy miller, who might kill them or, if they survive, use them as breeders. You may not know that, but you know you care a lot more about that puppy than they do. So if you can afford it, you deal with the emotional stress and hang on to your poor puppy. You no longer trust the store’s vet, since she gave the puppy a clean bill of health only days earlier, so you take him to a vet you do trust. Instead of spending thousands of dollars on vet care over the course of many years, you’ve spent it in the first WEEK, with more to come. Your decision to keep the puppy rather than return him and get your $1,300 back works out very nicely for the pet store, which made a tidy profit off a puppy that they paid very little for. This happens over and over at pet stores. ”
The pet store said that their puppies come from loving breeders!
How can I put this politely? Pet stores lie. They are in the business of selling lies – cute puppies, available at the drop of your credit card – and they won’t hesitate to lie to do so. Plainly put, NO caring, ethical breeder would ever hand over their precious puppies to a pet store to sell. Good breeders have long, long waiting lists – why do they need a pet store to sell their puppies for them? All pet stores get their puppies from the same bad sources – brokers, puppy mills, and clueless back yard breeders (and not even many of those, in French Bulldogs).
Your cute pet store puppy is the final link in a chain of misery that leads back to a dog, in a hutch, pumping out litter after litter until they are too used up to be of further worth, at which time they’re either killed or re-sold at auction to another mill. Don’t think for one minute that ‘your’ pet store is any different, or that they could care less where the puppies they sell come from. If you don’t believe me, ask to see the paper work on the puppy they are selling. Chances are they won’t let you, or won’t have it, but if they do – ten to one your puppy came from a USDA mill in Missouri or other puppy mill state.
Still not convinced?
Read this article, written by a former pet shop employee:
“I used to work for ‘x corporation’ and also for ‘y corporation’ (names available upon private request). The puppies are all from mills in the south and the western states. They came in shipped 6 to a crate that was the size for one, two at the most. Covered in feces and filth sometimes one or two would be dead. Some were pulled from their mothers at 4 weeks so that by the time they were shipped to the stores they would be 6 weeks old. Puppies came to the store that had hardly any teeth and couldn’t eat the food given to them. These pups are also fed a minimal amount of food so that the sales personnel are selling dogs and not spending their time cleaning cages. 1/4 cup of food per day per dog only!
We were trained to sell sick puppies by showing how calm (sick) they were. Many puppies died within days of reaching the store or were so sick and malnourished that they died within days of being bought. The store has no motivation to correct this because they get “CREDIT” for all puppies that die. ALL stores that sell puppies work this way. They buy a puppy for no more than $100 usually closer to $60 and sell it with worthless AKC (American Kennel Club) papers for $600 or more. The customer will not get their money back if the dog dies or becomes ill but must take a credit for another puppy. The warrantee always states this in very clever ways. Stores will not spend $100 in vet bills for a $60 pup so they get minimal or no vet care. Once stores stop selling puppies the mills will die out too. AKC also benefits by this bogus trade in hundreds of thousands of dollars in worthless AKC registration applications. Most puppies are not even of pet quality and harbor birth defects and other deformities. The puppy mills exist to feed the pet store chains. They are connected and something must be done on both ends. This is a multi-million dollar industry rooted in death and suffering.
I thought it was the greatest job in the world until I got a good look at the behind the scenes of the business end. The day I quit was the day that a pug puppy died from collapsed lungs in my arms as I took it to a vet, on my own without the stores permission. The dog came in apparently healthy but five days later started coughing and had a nasal discharge. The pup was pulled from out front and put out back, out of view. Out back it was also about 60 degrees or less. The pup then developed severe diahreah (excuse the spelling). On the managers orders the pup was to be given no food or water. His belief was that without water and food it couldn’t have the runs. Two days later the dog was so dehydrated that it could no longer stand and when you pulled the skin up on its neck it stayed that way. Now the manager took an IV needle and put about a cup of fluid under the pups skin on the neck. The pup lay there rasping and gasping and wheezing( it had recieved no medication up until this point) and when the manager left for the day I took the dog to the vet. It was dead before we got there and the vet said it’s lungs had collapsed. The manager was furious that I took the dog to a vet because he did not need a vet to see the condition of the dog. I quit after that because so many had died and would continue to die for a buck.
The sales people (myself included) are sent to training seminars on “How to sell a puppy.” Basically, when you see someone looking at a puppy you go get it and, without asking, put the puppy in their arms. Then you either back off and force them to stay with the puppy for as long as possible or you lock them in a little room with the pup. Either way, afterwards, you make yourself scarce until they have sold themselves on bringing the dog home. It is not an accident, the sales people are trained to do this. We are also trained to make a list for the potential customer on why it is good to have a puppy from the store. We think of every little thing and write it down. Then we make a list of all the negatives and we do not help the customer think of any at all. Guaranteed the PLUS list is much much longer. I used to work as a Vet assistant before I took this job. When I saw the conditions that the pups were in and how they were handled I thought that I could help the store to be better. What I found instead was an animal nightmare and that they had it set up just the way they wanted. I saw papers fabricated and medical histories falsified. The customers would ask about a puppy that they had seen a day or two before and now was missing (because it died or was going to.) The standard answer was, and still is, “Oh, he has been sold and has gone to a new home.” Medications are not done by a vet but by the sales people and store workers themselves. Mostly older teens and young people trying their first job. They cannot be expected to know what they are doing or how to care for a sick animal properly. Anyway they are not allowed to because they have to be out on the floor selling the puppies. You get paid on a commission basis and the more pups you sell the more you make………..For these reasons, and more, I don’t mind at all if anyone else sees this. I only wish I still had the paperwork from the ‘x corporation’ on selling and dog care to give to someone.”
The Bottom Line
Look, how hard is this to understand? Do NOT buy puppies from pet stores.
Do not purchase pet supplies from stores that sell live animals.
Press your local politicians to do something to stop the sale of live animals from pet stores in your area.
Pet stores and puppy mills are horrid, but if we don’t stop the demand, they will never stop the supply.